John Storrs’s streamlined sculptures of the 1920s, including Auto Tower (Industrial Forms), merge architectural motifs and European avant-garde modernist styles in ways that anticipated Art Deco. The Museum’s plaster sculpture is a triple visual pun: a touring car set on end, an architectural tower, and the suggestion of a totemic figure, which becomes more evident in profile. The tower aspect of the work is realized not only in its overall form but is carried further in the rear view of the sculpture, which evokes both the undercarriage of a car and the facade of an Art Deco skyscraper with an entryway and door. The incorporation of an automobile in this work reflects the Machine Age fascination with industrial and mechanical elements. Auto Tower not only delights in the car’s sleek lines but extends them in flares above the rear wheels as if to indicate speed. The sculpture’s totemic reference, while too general to associate with a particular form or object, may have been inspired by Native American crest (totem) poles, especially those from Northwest Coast groups.
Purchased with funds given by Mr. and Mrs. Duncan Boeckman (Elizabeth Mayer, class of 1954)
ID Number: SC 1989: 1